Published 2:44 PM EDT Jun 11, 2019
Pepe the Frog's status as an alt-right symbol may be in danger.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist website InfoWars agreed to settle a copyright infringement suit for $15,000 and a promise to never use the melancholy frog again after Pepe's creator – cartoonist Matt Furie – took InfoWars to court.
Pepe is a frog cartoon used in online memes from Nicki Minaj to Wendy's. Donald Trump Jr. deployed the frog in an Instagram post called "The Deplorables."
Pepe was co-opted by the alt-right in memes invoking the Klu Klux Klan and Nazis on websites such as 4chan. Pepe was declared a "hate symbol" by the Anti-Defamation League in 2016.
Furie's lawsuit involves a promotional InfoWars poster showing Pepe the Frog alongside InfoWars leader Alex Jones, President Donald Trump, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, online personalities Diamond and Silk and conservative consultant Roger Stone.
Furie wants to take Pepe back and divorce the frog from its association with the alt-right. His campaign includes a zine of Pepe images that preach love.
Though InfoWars was forced to pay the profits it gained from the poster, the website said the settlement "clearly represents a strategic victory for Alex Jones."
“They would have made more money if they went and waitressed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for a few months,” InfoWars attorney Robert Barnes said in a statement. "So we made our point."
Furie will donate $1,000 of the earnings to the conservation group Save the Frogs.
Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote